By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
Feb. 11, 2010 – African-American leaders braved the Washington blizzard to meet with President Obama Wednesday to discuss the economy and getting people back to work.
Civil rights leaders Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the NAACP, Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League, and the Reverend Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network met for a little more than an hour with the president in the Oval Office.
The discussion focused on the challenges facing the poor, the unemployed and communities struggling during to get on their feet in this economic climate. The topics ranged inclusive of everyone feeling the pinch – not just concerning African-Americans.
“ In these times, it didn’t make sense to talk about race-based initiatives,” Mr. Jealous told reporters after the meeting. “It made more sense to target poor areas.”
“When you’re on the ground, the poor black community is the same as the poor white community,” Jealous said.
With the historic snow storm shutting the city down the president’s meeting with civil rights leaders was one of the only White House with guest. Weather was also the reason Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Chairwoman, National Council of Negro Women, was unable to attend.
The leaders wanted to talk about what could be done to woo Republican leaders to support and pass a jobs bill. Sharpton said he has reached out to Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele and asked the same question.
The president is proposing in the 2011 budget to use the money paid back from the bank bailout loans to create a $30 billion jobs package that would provide loans to small business and stimulate job creation.